Education
7:00 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Louisville's Transgender Students: A Different Type of 'Passing' in School

Credit Alix Mattingly/WFPL News

In our ongoing series this week we're speaking with Louisville students to better understand what it means to be transgender in school.  

Today, we're discussing the concept of "passing"—when a person who is considered part of one group is accepted as a member of another.

Today, we'll discuss what it means to "pass" as another gender. Like the proper use of pronouns—which we learned about from Louisville Collegiate student Henry Brousseau—passing as the gender they identify with is important for transgender students.

"It was basically the shedding of a skin," Charlotte Rose Langer says. "It was, now I can grow my hair out, wear the correct clothing. I could do so many things I've always truly dreamt of."

Langer attends Kentucky Country Day School, and says the teachers and staff have been supportive since she came out as transgender in February 2013.  

What students go through to pass varies depending on who you speak with. Some transgender adults may spend thousands of dollars on surgery to better align them with the gender they identify with. It's less common with people younger than 18.

Also, transgender people  may use hormone blockers. For Langer, that's a monthly injection that disrupts the testosterone flow in her body. She also is taking estrogen, a complete hormone replacement therapy, she says. 

Langer has also observed to pick up the culturally accepted cues.

"As a woman you don't slouch, but you don't also don't stand aggressively and both things are a little bit hard to do if you're so ingrained to do that," Langer says.

Hair styling and make up help Langer pass in school. Beyond that, she says, the most important thing is confidence.

And of course, she says it helps to have support from her school. When she came out, she was blown away by the support by Kentucky Country Day School.

"They're paving new ground for Kentucky," says Langer.

We'll continue exploring the issues transgender students face in schools throughout the week. Stay tuned.